From a long line of female entrepreneurs, meet Gabriella, hustling to keep her carpet business alive during COVID-19

Meet Gabriella Flores-Patino, owner of Pristine Fine Carpet and Cleaning with her husband. Her Brentwood business took a big hit when COVID-19 shut everything down right as they were on the verge of restructuring and making the business more eco-friendly. Read Gabriella’s story on how hope, hard-work, and a PPP loan is keeping this family affair going steady.

Not everybody’s born with the gift of being a sole proprietor, but I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. The women in my family have always hustled to support our family: My mother ran a jewelry store and my grandmother ran a bakery. I love eating more than baking, so running a bakery wasn’t necessarily for me!

My husband and I started our business, Pristine Fine Carpet Cleaning and Restoration in Brentwood in 2002, when our daughter was born. My daughter and I both have asthma, and we realized the best way to get rid of allergens is to steam-clean our home. Prior to starting our business, my husband was a carpet cleaner for a different company and I was a teacher. It was a fun transition into working for ourselves, because I used to be an economics teacher, so I got into the running of the business. Since my husband and I met, not a day has gone by that we haven’t talked to each other. That constant communication, trust, and respect helps us in the business world, so we can figure out the best way to take care of our clients.

In March, we were on a good track to restructure the business. We’d signed up for software to cut down on our paper trail and make the business more eco-friendly. We were ready to get a new van and equipment. But everything shut down because of COVID. We took a hard hit. Many years ago, Opportunity Fund helped us purchase our second van. Now we’re down to one, because of COVID.

I had to adjust to the lifestyle of being an entrepreneur: There’s no recess, no summer break, no winter break. You wear all the hats. That’s why it’s nice to have Opportunity Fund. The PPP loan was instrumental to our business, and it was great to have someone call me and walk me through the application.

Small businesses are the heart of the economy. I believe that businesses are built with hope. We’re in the right industry for this moment where we want our houses and businesses to be healthy—we’ve been cleaning, disinfecting, sanitizing for 20 years. We’ve shifted into looking for more clients that are commercial, beyond working in individuals’ homes. [In November 2020,] we were cleaning out a location that’s going to be Santa’s workshop!

My favorite thing about being a business owner is feeling that I’m helping the community. My father was a deacon, he was very religious. He told me that if I helped others, you’ll sleep better. Every day is a new challenge, and every day we get to provide the best possible service for people.

To other small business owners, I would say: Be as positive as you can. Find your strengths and your weaknesses. Take on the future and see if there’s new horizons: We didn’t think the business side was going to pick up as much with commercial, and it did. Find your niche.

Thanks, Opportunity Fund! I’m glad we found you.